Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Successful Appeal in Máire Nic an Bhaird Case

Máire Nic an Bhaird has been acquitted.

From Troops Out Movement, TOM News 14/09/07:

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said today's decision to throw out the case against Máire Nic an Bhaird on appeal highlights the fact that the case should never have been brought in the first place and has exposed the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service to allegations of malicious prosecution.

The long-running case has been the subject of considerable controversy and Irish speakers across the island have rallied to support the young teacher. Like the political vetting of Glór na nGael in the 1980s, the case Ms Nic an Bhaird was seen as a symbol of official hostility to Irish speakers by authorities in the six counties.

In the magistrates court Ms Nic an Bhaird was originally was found guilty of disorderly conducted and fined £100.

Speaking after the conviction was overturned Ms de Brún said: "The ruling makes a mockery of the original judgement and also exposes the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service to allegations of malicious prosecution.

"This young woman should never have found herself before the courts, and would never have been in court were it not for the fact that she spoke Irish in the streets of Belfast. I was in court to hear the evidence given by the PSNI against her and I must say that I found that evidence staged and unreliable.

"Ms Nic an Bhaird was also denied the right to have the papers relating to the case in Irish or to have the court hearing in Irish. This flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement, the Criminal Justice Review and the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages.

"The Máire Nic an Bhaird case shows the need for strong legislation to promote and protect the rights of Irish speakers. Sinn Féin will continue to press for these rights to be enshrined in an Irish Language Act without delay."

As Gaeilge

One Person's Religion, Another Person's... Bling?

Remember how in the eighties lots of Wiccans were in an uproar about Heavy Metal musicians wearing pentacles to make themselves seem spooky and "satanic"? I do. I remember a great deal of kvetching, a bit of activism, and even some personal confrontations.

Mostly, I remember the indignation, and the sense of violation.

So how come so many Pagans are still pillaging cultures they know little to nothing about for exotic bits of bling? Is it somehow more noble that they're trying to make themselves seem spiritual as opposed to satanic?

Due to the hard work of First Nations activists and their supporters, there's a bit more awareness that it's not cool for a white person to buy a "peace pipe" on eBay, or to pray to their Caucasian ancestors with a stolen chanupa. But notice I only say, "a bit." Now and then I'll make the mistake of picking up one of the more lowbrow Pagan zines and it still looks pretty ugly.

Lately I've been noticing a similar trend with appropriating Hindu religious objects. Look, I don't care if Courtney Love performed on an awards show with a mala hanging off her mike stand - it didn't make her suddenly seem spiritual, and it doesn't make you more spiritual to wrap one around your wrist.

While I have occasionally seen people of actual Hindu traditions wearing beads on their wrists, they're almost always bracelets made of rudraksha or wooden beads, not actual malas (aka japa beads). Actual malas are usually kept in a special bag, and only taken out during a meditation session, not worn as decoration. What's particularly sad is seeing Pagans and others wearing malas in ways and situations that are patently offensive in Hindu cultures.

What people don't seem to understand when they desecrate objects this way is that the only people they're going to impress are the ignorant. People in the know are going to look on this behaviour with, at best, amused tolerance for a noob's mistakes, or, at worst, the complete contempt deserved by someone who should know better, but just doesn't care.

I want to be a reasonably tolerant person. I want to keep my sense of compassion. But those whose traditions are being insulted also deserve compassion, and respect, and yes, justice. I am so tired of Pagans picking up anything that gives them a bit of an energy hit - be it real or imaginary, harmonious with their lives or not - and caring more about how special or intense it makes them feel than what it really means to the people who've maintained those traditions. Without the people of those religions, outsiders wouldn't have sacred objects to rip off and use as bling. And you know what? If outsiders continue to pillage traditional cultures they will contribute to the dilution and possible death of those cultures, and there will be no more sacredness to pillage.

Bad hippie, no patchouli.

Bad newager, no bling.

Bad Pagan, none for you, either.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Spirits for Sale

A film about the exploitation and misrepresentation of First Nations traditions has been completed and will be premiering this month. For more info, check out http://www.spiritsforsale.com

Congratulations to Annika and the rest of the crew for all their hard work!

from their website:

About protection of ceremonies

The information in Europe about Native Americans and Native Canadians is most often full of fantasies and lies. People in general know very little about American Indians and their general view is based on stereotypes, mascots and film clichés. In some cases the belief is that “Indians do not exist.” Europe has also seen a growing interest in so called Native American spirituality. Ceremonies and rituals together with sacred objects are being sold on websites and in papers. Cults and organisations offer people to become “an Indian shaman” or a medicine man during a weekend course. Seldom or never do Native voices get heard and because of the lack of information, con-men make a considerable amount of money while they violate the spirituality of mostly Plains Indians.

This film will address the issue of spiritual exploiters and the harm they do towards Native cultures but also to followers who, in many cases, “don´t have a clue”.

*crossposted a bit*